When all of D.C. is a stage

Tragedy and comedy in Washington, D.C.

(CBS News) When Congress and the White House square off any more, it is like a play.

First act, both sides say the problem is serious and pledge to work together.

Act Two, Scene One: The actors preach to the choir. Each side talks mostly to their own people, and stresses the part about never giving up their principles.

In Scene Two each side lays out their opening offer, which is quickly followed by the other side saying, "No way." Modern technology has added a chorus of ridiculous tweets as background music.

But it is not until deep into Act Three, when the two sides close the door and start talking in private to each other, that anything of significance happens - or doesn't.

I think it's possible that something of significance could still happen in Act Three of this drama - I sure hope so - but we're not there. Not even close. The curtain is still up on Act Two.

What I keep wondering is, why can't we START this play with Act Three? Or just make it a one-act play: Start with everyone meeting privately and quietly out of the limelight? Get a sense of what's actually doable and then work from there?

No disrespect to the actors, but this usual plot is really getting old.

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    Bob Schieffer is a CBS News political contributor and former anchor of "Face The Nation," which he moderated for 24 years before retiring in 2015.